India head coach WV Raman on Wednesday said his players lacked game time and were short on “mental stamina and “cricketing fitness” as Mithali Raj and Co were defeated 1-4 by South Africa in the five-match ODI series in Lucknow.

South Africa won the final match by five wickets to finish the series on a high.

“In terms of what transpired in this series, it is very simple: the girls lacked the game time, and they’re obviously short in terms of the mental stamina and the cricketing fitness,” Raman said during a virtual post-match press conference.

“I mean it’s not easy to come back after 15 months and play a one-day series and retain the focus and intensity that is required to put the opposition under pressure. So, these things do happen, it happens to the best of players and best of teams.”

The former India opening batsman though was confident that his players would bounce back strongly.

“I am sure that the girls would have realised what was not happening and they will work on it. I have seen them do it in the past and I have no doubts at all, they will do in the future.”

Despite skipper Mithali Raj’s unbeaten 79 off 104 balls, a disciplined South Africa restricted India to 188 and then chased down the target with 10 balls to spare, with half centuries from Mignon du Preez (57) and Anne Bosch (58).

Raman said that the bowlers were not consistent, but refused to blame them.

“As far as the positives are concerned, the batting unit is getting into its flow, despite the fact that not all of them got big scores, we managed scores in excess of 250 or around 250.

“I think what probably did not go in our favour was the fact that the bowlers could not be consistent, but as I said earlier, there is no blaming them at all because it was expected.”

“This is something that the girls will definitely work on. We have quite a lot of activities planned going forward which will also help them to achieve that. I am sure it won’t be too long before all of them get into their rhythm and perform as well as they can,” the coach said.

He insisted that the team wanted to play on flat tracks, which they might face abroad.

“We also wanted to play on flat tracks because that is something that we might come up against when we go abroad, so it is all a part of them having to adapt and adjust to conditions that they may get when they go aboard and play major competitions,” elaborated Raman.

When asked about the low strike-rates of Indian batters, Raman said, “You cannot really think of something that is done well by the other sides and try and imitate them.

“We need to try and get into the groove and then see how the entire unit is in terms of form and then see what we need to do and then we have to assess and see what times we need to try and step on the peddle.”

Harmanpreet Kaur, captain of the Indian T20 team, was retired hurt when she was batting, but the coach was confident that she would take the field in the upcoming three-match T20 series.

“From what I gather, she (Harman) has sustained a hip strain grade one and that will be monitored and all the necessary procedures are being followed.

“Her progress will be monitored. I don’t think it is a serious injury, we might see her take the field in the T20 series, as things stand now,” he signed off.